Book Review: Dinner at Mine by Chris Smyth
May 10, 2012 11 Comments
Number of pages: 380
First published: 2012, April (UK)
Genre: contemporary fiction
I got this book: for review from Simon & Schuster UK
A book about a Come Dine With Me kind of dining competition, that’s gonna be fun, right? Well indeed! 🙂
Dinner at Mine: What it is about
From the publisher’s website: “When Rosie decides to get her friends together for their very own version of Come Dine With Me she’s bursting with excitement, even though her husband Stephen is less than keen. But Rosie is adamant. Four couples, each hosting a dinner party on a different night of the week, with a prize at the end for the best one. It’ll be a good laugh, won’t it? And a great way for everyone to get to know each other. What could possibly go wrong?
What Rosie doesn’t anticipate are the lengths her fellow hosts might be prepared to go to in order to claim the prize — outlandish recipes, rare ingredients sourced from abroad, and a chocolate tart that looks just too good to be homemade… But perhaps she should be more worried about the mounting tension between the guests, as backbiting breaks out over the appetisers and a glass of wine too many leads to indiscreet flirtation. As the pressure in the kitchen rises, relationships begin to crack under strain, high-minded principles collide and the oven gloves come off… But that’s all part of the fun. Isn’t it?”
Dinner at Mine: What I thought
I found this a very fun read. The first dinner party isn’t a great success and the others go from even worse to complete disasters. However, this is England, and one is polite. So, people ignore for the most part what’s going on and pretend everything is fine. As I lived in England for a long time, I so recognise this. And it’s so toe-curlingly awful. And therefore such fun to read about.
Marcus is very competitive and sees himself as the absolute best cook. He gives the others low marks so he has a better chance of winning. Charlotte isn’t all that happy that Rosie has found her someone to team up with, with the idea of a possible love-match. And she really likes a good argument. So, she’s ready to stir up things with Justin, part of the vegetarian couple, who is a fervid advocate for animal welfare.
There is more and more animosity within each couple, too. Will any of these relationships survive the competition, you wonder?
I’m sorry to say, other people’s misery is sometimes fun to read about. Especially the easy, understated way it’s written in Dinner at Mine. This book was a real pleasure to read.
Just one moment…. There was something I was absolutely NOT happy about – but luckily, it didn’t distract me from the story: the vegetarians were put down as lefty do-gooders, very concerned with saving the world and not understanding that not everyone else has the same priorities. Come on, that’s a very poor stereotype.
Worse still, it was assumed that vegetarians eat vegetables – NO they don’t!!! Well, at least not more than anyone else. A salad cannot replace the lack of meat in a meal, unless it contains protein of some kind. Very annoying to see this “vegetarian = vegetables” falsehood confirmed here (for the most part). Yes, I’m a vegetarian myself. I don’t want to save the world in the least, and if I’m offered extra veggies with my meal I’m not going to be happy.